The 4 most powerful language news items of winter 2012

Merry Christmas everyone! Once you've sat back and had a good meal, an internet session and a good browse of my recommended articles I say get away from the screen and do something fun! Why not play with the little ones, go for a winter bicycle ride or a new class at the gym?

But first, let's catch up on the best news articles about languages in recent months.

1) Under-25s most likely to regret not studying abroad says poll - BBC 1 November

At a time where employers are increasingly looking for candidates who are proud global citizens, this article is a worthwhile reminder that opening up to a new culture can bring you not just more social points, but also more money.

To me, language learning and teaching is where all of this starts. What easier way to educate with global awareness than to show people how important and how very possible it is to communicate with a foreigner?

CC Image by Dave Catchpole on Flickr

CC Image by Dave Catchpole on Flickr

2) 153 languages being spoken in Manchester, but census didn't show that says language professor - MEN 17 December

Linguistic diversity lives where you least expect it. 153 languages in Manchester alone. One of the key excuses preventing people from language learning is this feeling that there is little point, that the language won't be used. Well, with studies like these you're forced to think again. It is proof that you can find a speaker of your target language much nearer than you think.

3) Schools science project aims to boost foreign language take-up - BBC 21 December

Finally someone in Britain's education policy camp has woken up! The project introduced in this article gives me hope that future generations of learners will stop thinking of themselves as a "scientist", "linguist", "mathematician" or whatever, and instead just enjoy whatever they are learning. It's so crucial to encourage a good general education, and languages are not an isolated add-on. They're something to learn along with many other things like business techniques or geography. Learning language for more than just the holidays - that's what the future is made of!

4) Why is the government ripping into language learning? - New Statesman 13 September

"It’s complacent to think that the rest of the world will learn English and talk to us on our terms."

A great read celebrating the big asset that has developed in many international communities all over the world. As globalization and increased mobility of workers in the world makes our communities more international, the number of languages in one place is exploding. There are two ways to take this development: You can turn your back on it, stay intolerant and refuse to accept that the others are people like you. Or you can approach different people with curiosity and discover what a great asset their language, their food, their religion and way of life can bring into your life. Throw away travelling - you probably have to walk no more than a mile to meet a speaker of Gujarati or Yoruba! (In my town of less than 100 000, I know where to find speakers of Polish, Igbo, Bulgarian and Mandarin without even considering the big university around the corner.)